Living Christmas, inspiring thoughts from M.K.Gandhi.
In these days we often say or write on a card: “Merry Christmas” or “have a peaceful Christmas“.
We certainly do with a genuine good heart and good will, we say and write those words like a blessing for our Neighbours. Nevertheless, if we compare the good feelings that those kind expressions are to deliver and the hectic rhythms we are living in this time of the year, we can’t avoid the experience of an uncomfortable contradiction.
We wish a peaceful time but we have lost the time for peace. We want to express our joy and gratitude by giving and being together with our brothers and sisters but we stress ourselves in a frantic search for our own “seasonal targets” (almost at a shopping centre?). We open some doors, we close other doors.
From a certain perspective the first Christmas was not very different: strangers and local people where crowded at the inns, there was a festive atmosphere of joy and social excitation. Towards the evening -when the feast was at peak- two tired travellers arrived at the inn to seek a shelter.
“No room at the inn, very sorry”: suddenly, for those two strangers life freezes, the feast is in, they are out: no room here. It must have been a pitchy black moment for those two travellers, but -as often it happens in life- the moment of most desperation magically opens the door on a different dimension. The light shines in the dark and a new life appears to them at the birth of their baby.
Last night I was reading some articles on various topics and one caught my attention: “What Jesus means to me” by M.K. Gandhi. In this booklet there are many paragraphs quoted from different ages when Gandhi spoke about Christianity. It is a very inspiring reading, I find it very appropriate for this time of the year and I add a link here for everyone who is interested to read Gandhi’s thoughts and experience. However, may I also quote a paragraph from chapter 5 of the same booklet that is well related to the previous part of this conversation.
“Although I have devoted a large part of my life to the study of religion and to discussion with religious leaders of all faiths, I know very well that I cannot but seem presumptuous in writing about Jesus Christ and trying to explain what He means to me. I do so only because my Christian friends have told me on more than a few occasions that for the very reason that I am not a Christian and that (I shall quote their words exactly) “I do not accept Christ in the bottom of my heart as the only Son of God,” it is impossible for me to understand the profound significance of His teachings, or to know and interpret the greatest source of spiritual strength that man has ever known.
Although this may or may not be true in my case, I have reasons to believe that it is an erroneous point of view. I believe that such an estimate is incompatible with the message that Jesus Christ gave to the world. For He was, certainly, the highest example of One who wished to give everything, asking nothing in return, and not caring what creed might happen to be professed by the recipient. I am sure that if He were living here now among men, He would bless the lives of many who perhaps have never even heard His name, if only their lives embodied the virtues of which He was a living example on earth; the virtues of loving one’s neighbour as oneself and of doing good and charitable works among one’s fellow men.”
From this point of view it is completely irrelevant whether someone defines himself or herself christian or muslim or jewish or buddhist: it is more about embodying our lives “with virtues of which He was a living example on earth; the virtues of loving one’s neighbour as oneself and of doing good and charitable works among one’s fellow men”.
A merry, peaceful Christmas to everyone! v
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